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57% of small and medium business do not have a mobile-friendly website. Nearly two thirds of them don’t have plans to upgrade.

That’s according to the 2016 Sensis eBusiness report.

Yet any digital marketer will tell you your website should be mobile-friendly.

What’s going on?

If you’re running a business, you know there are so many things you should do – but you can’t afford to do all of them. And you certainly can’t afford to do all of them right now. Sure, you should have a mobile-friendly website. But do you need it right now? Should that be your top digital marketing priority? That’s a different question.

How important is a mobile-friendly website for your business?

These questions will help you decide.

  • Are you planning a major website revamp or a new website already?

Almost 4 in 10 small to medium businesses in Australia don’t have a website at all.

They might be listed in online directories, or have a Facebook page or other third party presence. Or they might be getting all the business they need from offline marketing. A local storefront with lots of traffic. Word of mouth. Local letterbox drops.

If that’s you, congratulations! You don’t have to go online. But if and when you decide to do so, plan on a mobile-friendly website. At this point it’s no more expensive, but it is better future-proofed.

Equally, if you’re revamping an existing website, build mobile optimisation into that project. Two projects are always going to be cheaper than one. Not just in money, but in time and overhead.

  • Are you (or do you want to be) an e-commerce business?

If the answer’s yes, get mobile-friendly as soon as possible. One in three online shoppers in Australia buys something on a smartphone already.

Chart showing Roy Morgan research into common online shopping categories. Tickets to shows, movies and so on are most often purchased online, followed by travel tickets and accommodation; women’s clothing; books; music; fast food and meal; computer related goods; video games; men’s clothing; accessories and more


This chart from Roy Morgan shows what consumers are buying online. The higher up your product is, the more you are missing out.

  • Are you selling to consumers?

If the answer’s yes, you’ll need a mobile-friendly website to get best results from your digital marketing efforts.

You won’t get traffic from people using Google from a smartphone. Your site simply won’t appear in search results.

You’ll struggle with social media too – paid or unpaid. Most social media users are on mobile devices. You may look great on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but when they hit your site, they’ll be disappointed.

Chart showing how time on various social networks is divided between desktop and mobile devices. LinkedIn users are on mobiles 31% of the time, Tumblr users 48% of the time; Facebook users 68% of the time. For Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat, over 90% of usage is via mobile devices.


  • Are you selling commodity items? Impulse buy products?

For products and services like these, the decision-making process is quick. If something’s available and affordable, very few people are going to search around. You need to be the first supplier people find. Then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to purchase from you. A mobile-friendly website is likely to help with that.

The same goes for urgently required products and services. If your toilet’s backed up or you’ve hit a mains pipe with a pick (it happened to me once!) you want a plumber now. You don’t mess around. If your computer or your website has been hacked, same thing. You want it fixed now.

  • Are you a B2B business selling a product or service which customers take a bit of time to consider?

If this is you, you answered ‘no‘ to all the previous questions. And the question of whether you need a mobile-friendly website may be harder to answer.

Your target customers are probably researching from their offices. On a desktop, or a laptop in a docking station. They’re probably going to visit your site a number of times before making a decision. They may or may not do that on a mobile device.

A mobile-friendly website would certainly be useful – but it may not be your top priority for investment. How do you find out?

screenshot of a Google Analytics menu showing how to access the Mobile Overview reportLook at your Google Analytics data to decide how important a mobile-friendly website is for you.

If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website already, get it now! It’s free, easy and useful, so there’s no excuse.

Use the Google Analytics Mobile Overview report to answer some simple questions like

  • How much of your traffic is from mobile?
  • What’s the impact of the mobile experience on visitor behaviour?

The report is in the ‘Audience’ section of the main Reporting side-menu. If you’re having problems finding it, use the screenshot to help.

Here’s a real-life example data-set.

Now, look at your data. I’ve got an example here. This is a current client, offering a range of B2B services, which require tailoring for specific clients of theirs. Their site is most definitely not mobile-friendly!

The report shows data for a 3 month period from June to August 2016.

screenshot showing detailed results of a Google Analytics mobile overview report. Key figures are explained in the text.


First, let’s look at the session data.

You can see that 14.68% (992 of a total 6758) sessions (visits) were people on mobile devices. That’s 1 in 7 of all visitors to the site.

Now, look at the ‘Behaviour’ data.

The bounce rate on mobile phones is a couple of percent higher than on other devices. A slightly higher proportion of people are leaving without interacting at all.

The pages per session and the average session duration are slightly lower. People are marginally less engaged on a mobile.

So what difference would a mobile-friendly site make to this business?

Screenshot of various calculations showing potential impact of changes to a non-mobile-friendly websiteI did a quick calculation.

Improving the bounce rate for mobile to the best current bounce rate would give another 8 or 9 non-bounce visits per month.

It’s not a lot to write home about.

What else could the business do to improve results? One obvious area to look is the bounce rate.

There’s a lot of discussion about what a ‘normal’ or ‘good’ bounce rate is, but a range of 40-60% is probably ‘normal’. This business is at almost 80% – there’s certainly room for improvement.

Time for another quick calculation. Lowering the overall bounce rate by as little as 1% would deliver 22 more ‘engaged’ visits per month. Nearly three times better than fixing mobile friendliness.

But 1% is a ridiculously small improvement to aim for. Final quick calculation.

Getting the bounce rate into the ‘normal’ range, even at the top border of 60%, would deliver over 400 more ‘engaged’ visits per month.

Which would you rather get for your money? A mobile-friendly website with poor content, or a more interesting site which isn’t mobile-friendly?

For this client, the priority is to develop more engaging website content, with a strong call-to-action. Serving that 6 times out of 7 will generate more enquiries. More sales.

Which should mean more money to make the site mobile-friendly at a later stage.

Some additional notes and comments relevant to this post

Website content vs website technical structure

Note that website content and website technical structure are two very different things. When you go to a show, there’s the performance and the physical structure of the venue. When you visit a website, there’s the content and the technical structure of the site.

It’s possible – easy – to change the content while the structure remains the same. Think how easily venues put on different events. Modern websites are built using content management systems, which means you can change (most of) the content yourself, without needing to pay a provider.

On some occasions, specific content requires specific technical features. Think wires in a theatre if you want performers to ‘fly’. But most of the time, there’s not much constraint.

How big is mobile commerce?

“One in three Australians bought something on their smartphone in last 12 months.”

That’s the headline from CMO, but read a little further and you’ll find it’s not one in three Australians. It’s one in three Australian online shoppers.

So how many of us shop online? Roy Morgan estimate it’s around 40% of us every month. Which means only 12% of Australians are buying on a mobile.

Probably more by now, since m-commerce is growing. But even so, it’s probably 15-20% of all Australians rather than over 30%.

Furthermore, research like this is heavily B2C focussed. If you’re B2B, most likely it’s not so relevant.

Will my search ranking drop if my site’s not mobile-friendly?

When Google updated their search algorithm in April 2015, there was a lot of media saying non-mobile-friendly sites would disappear from search results.

That wasn’t what Google said. Google said your mobile search ranking would drop. Which makes sense. Why would Google want to send someone on a smartphone to a website which doesn’t work on mobile? But Google also said your desktop search ranking would not drop. (Check out point 2 on this Moz blog from the time.)

A mobile-friendly site is still something to aim for

I’m not saying you don’t need one. I’m just saying it might not be your top priority. You may have bigger issues you need to sort out first.


A final note. What if you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly or not?

There are two ways to find out.

  • Check it on your smartphone. Or a friend’s. In fact, check it on at least one Apple phone and at least one Android phone.
  • Ask those nice people at Google. This tool will tell you how your site performs. Even better, it will also give you (or your technical support!) some hints what to do about it.